To the Editor:
In New Jersey, 1.2 million workers do not have the ability to earn sick days. Earned sick days can reduce emergency room visits, saving $1.1 billion a year nationally. Parents with paid sick days are 20 percent less likely to send a sick child to school, reducing the likelihood that their child’s illness will infect other children and staff. And speaking of disease transmission, 80 percent of food service workers in the United States have no paid sick days. When they go to work sick, they put the public health at risk. The Centers for Disease Control found that more than ten million cases of food-borne illness each year are caused by sick restaurant workers contaminating food while they are at work.
Already, New Jersey cities including Newark and Jersey City have enacted ordinances that enable workers to earn sick leave. The workers earn this benefit; it is not an entitlement. Now, with these successes, it is time for the State of New Jersey to enact a law providing this same protection for all workers. AARP urges our legislature and governor to take action as soon as possible; we are confident that all New Jersey citizens will be better off as a result.
AARP New Jersey State President